The subject of an endless number of historic plays and movies, the stories surrounding Rome have permeated the depths of Western culture. From
Quirinale is the highest of the seven hills. Atop its summit is Piazza Quirinale, with its colossal statues of the horse tamers, Castor and Pollux and the
The Viminale sits next to Quirinale. It is smaller in size, split into two by Via Nazionale, and dominated by the huge
Esquilino was the home of the great poets Virgil and Orazio. It has three peaks, one of which is Monte Oppio, where you can find the ruins of
Celio & Aventino
Celio has a long promontory, called Monte delle Querce, as it was once home to many oak trees (querce). It is possibly the greenest and most charming of the seven hills and is home to Parco del Celio and
Situated between Palatino and Quirinale, this area was the religious and political center of the city during the Roman Era. It is dominated by the Michelangelo-styled
The seven hilltops offer a number of beautiful views, but the most breathtaking panoramas can be seen from outside the confines of the original Seven Hills. To the west of Capitolino and the Tiber River in the Vatican City, you can enjoy a glorious view of the city from the dome of
Trastevere is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas of the city, and one of the most crowded areas too - especially on summer evenings. Many people (foreigners and Romans alike) want to live in this highly desirable district, home of historic churches such as the
The "Eternal City" holds a fascination for young people, tourists, businessmen, pilgrims and anyone in search of history, art, culture, business or entertainment. This means that Rome's tourist season remains uninterrupted all year round and despite the ample choice of hotels, it is not always easy to find a room at the last minute, so make sure to book at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Centro Storico (Historic Center)
The majority of the luxury hotels can be found in the centro storico; however, there are numerous hotels in the city center to accommodate any budget. There are several excellent hotels on fashionable Via Veneto including the Ambasciatori Palace, the Hotel Majestic, the Westin Excelsior and the Eden. All of these hotels served as sets in Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita. The exclusive Bernini Bristol looks onto the attractive Fountain of Triton, while the Hassler Villa Medici, at the top of the Trinità dei Monti steps, is a constant destination for the international jet-set. Some other fine hotels include the De La Ville, the Grand Hotel Plaza (with its warm, early 19th-century feel), and the Grand Hotel de la Minerve by the gorgeous Pantheon.
There are also many small but very elegant hotels, often housed in old palaces, with well-kept and welcoming common rooms. Some even have balconies with views of the city, or well-tended gardens that are pleasant to relax in during the summer. Of particular note are the Valadier in Piazza del Popolo, D'Inghilterra and the Dei Borgognoni near the lively Piazza di Spagna.
Other affordable accommodations can be found around Campo de' Fiori, full of charming little piazzas with interesting nooks and crannies. Here you will find the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo and the Albergo del Sole. If you are fascinated by ancient Rome, then the Bolivar and the Richmond (with their unique views over the imperial forums), will make your stay even more magical.
Many of the traditional pensioni are privately run and manage to maintain a simple and friendly atmosphere. This makes them preferable to the big hotels, especially for prolonged stays. There are lots of pensioni to be found around the main railway station, Stazione Termini, such as Hotel Grifo for example.
Aventino & Trastevere
In Trastevere, the capital's most lively and colorful area, you will find La Cisterna. At Aventino (an oasis of peace among gardens, cloisters and attractive churches) you will find the comfortable Domus Aventina.
If you need tranquility and appreciate nature and greenery, you may prefer the Lord Byron, which is also particularly suited to the needs of businessmen and women.
There is a wide, varied selection as far as gastronomy is concerned in Rome; choices range from exclusive high-level cuisine, developed by some of the most famous chefs on the international scene to traditional, hearty Romanesca fare in all its manifold variations. There’s also Jewish cuisine, testaccina recipes, specialties of Lazio and ethnic dishes, which can be sampled in the plethora of restaurants that offer delights from all over the world.
The only way to really understand the heart and soul of Rome is by tasting its culinary splendors. Romans, like all Italians, love to eat, and so when in Rome, you should do as the Romans do and sit yourself down in a popular trattoria or osteria. This allows you to s teep yourself in Roman culture while you discover the tastes and flavors of traditional cooking through the ages.
Delicious Roman cuisine stems from a time when people were unable to afford a meal made with meat, and therefore had to use offal (entrails), which at that time was considered less "prestigious" but definitely more affordable. Over the centuries, traditional dishes like coda alla vaccinara (oxtail cooked with wine, tomatoes and peppers), la pajata, (veal's offal cooked in a tomato sauce), l'abbacchio alla scottadito (lamb) and la trippa alla romana (tripe), have come to be considered as delicacies.
Centro Storico (Historic Center)
If in search of high-class food, Rome offers a great choice of quality restaurants. There are elegant places in the more exclusive hot els, such as La Pergola dell'Hotel Hilton, the Terrazza dell'Hotel Eden or La Veranda dell'Hotel Majestic. You can also try the delights of creative gourmet cuisine at restaurants such as Quinzi & Gabrieli, Alberto Ciarla, and Le Sans Souci. Tucked away down a small alley, the exclusive Il Convivio Troiani can be hard to fine, but if you are looking for Italian alta cucina this is your place. Agata e Romeo have offered family-run fine-dining for thr ee generations. Romeo is an expert sommelier and the restaurant has over 1500 labels in its cellar. Romolo nel Giardino della Fornarina in Trastevere is the perfect setting for a romantic evening; dine outside in the low-lit courtyard where Raphael is said to have courted his lady La Fornarina. Nino is a cozy option, offering classic Roman and Tuscan cuisine in a warm environment. Or, if you are looking for pizza in the center, try Da Baffetto, which has been serving up some of best pizza pies around since the 1960s.
Inspired by the popular film Babette's Feast, Ristorante Babette has the feel of a 1920s French bistro. Gusto 28 also has a chic early 20th-century feel, and is especially known for its seafood dishes and variety of vegetarian plates. Ancient meets modern at L'Acino Brillo, where creative cuisine and contemporary decor blend delightfully in this hip restaurant and wine bar.
Rosati is also in the center and offers great views with their coffee. A celebrity hot spot during the 1960s and 1970s, they also have a dining room if your espresso leaves you wanting more.
A relaxing way to enjoy a snack or evening coffee is at one of Rome's many cafés, usually serving coffee, gelato, panini and snacks. The elegant Ciampini is located atop the Spanish Steps, and offers amazing views of the city. The famed Antico Caffè Greco is one of Rome's oldest (open since the 1760), and is definitely one of its most exclusive.
Pizzerias and trattorie are definitely the most popular places to dine in Rome, being informal, economical and fast. Roman pizzerias are home to pizza alla romana, pizzas with a thin crust and a crispy edge, as opposed to the soft raised crusts of the Neapolitan pizza. However, if you are craving a taste of bella Napoli, you can't do any better than Da Vittorio. You will find pizzerias in every corner of the city, but Trastevere offers an especially wide choice of pizza restaurants with wood burning ovens, which give the pizza a more intense flavor. Panattoni, Ivo, Dar Poeta, Roma Sparita, Arco di San Calisto, are just some of the high quality pizza parlors. Remo, in the heart of Testaccio, offers outdoor seating and a hip younger crowd. In addition to pizza, don't miss other delicious Roman offerings found at pizzerie and trattorie, such as Supplì al telefono, fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, potato croquettes, fried cod fillets, fried pumpkin flowers, and bruschette, (slices of toasted bread with tomato or oil and garlic).
Est! Est!! Est!!! has been around since the early 1900s, and serves thick-crusted pan pizzas as opposed to traditional Roman thin-crusted pies. This is a great option if you are in the center of the city and don't feel like heading over to the many pizzerie over in the Trastevere.
For gelato, Gelateria Pellacchia in the historical center offers some of Rome's best, as well as coffees and panini. Or, if your belly is rumbling after enduring the lines and crowds at the Sistine Chapel, head over to Osteria dell'Angelo for delicious and traditional cuisine.
The glorious Roman civilization had its origins in small groups of farmers and shepherds who settled along the banks of the Tiber, on the Palatine hills and the surrounding areas.
The most famous myth regarding Rome's origins recounts the Trojans' escape from their ruined city of Troy. With Aeneas as their guide, they reached Lazio, settled there and intermarried with the Latin people. Ascanius, son of Aeneas, founded Albalonga. His ancestor, Amulius took the throne from his older brother, Numitore and forced his daughter Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin. However, Silvia was loved by the god Mars and bore him twin sons, Romulus and Remus, who were thrown into the Tiber. The twins survived and were washed up close to the Palatine hills. A she-wolf raised the newborn babies, who were later found and adopted by a shepherd and his wife. An argument between the two brothers over who was the founder of the city was decided when Romulus murdered his brother, and Rome is said to have been established in 753 BCE.
The Roman republic was characterized by internal struggles that eventually led to the success of the plebeians (lower class Romans) and a new order of ruling class. The city expanded, and gradually, the whole of Lazio, the Italic peninsula and the Mediterranean basin were conquered. For almost four centuries, Rome concentrated her energies on building a strong, solid empire. Mighty conquests came thick and fast: from Sannitic and Tarantine wars, to clashes with Carthage and Syracuse. Rome expanded over land and sea to rule a huge area stretching from present-day Britain to present-day Iraq.
In the first two centuries of the Empire, Rome reached the height of its power, but the first signs of its downfall were already apparent towards the end of the second century. The imperial age opened with a long period of peace, and the unity of the empire was secure during the period between Emperors Octavian and Caracallus. However, this unity became increasingly unstable and eventually dissolved.
The fall of the Roman Empire is dated at 476 BCE. The causes of Rome's decline are numerous. The empire was unable to control its many subjects, and social and economic changes created instability as did the forceful arrival of the Barbarians. Christianity also began to spread and emperors tried to unite the empire using religion. Emperors wanted to have their titles sanctified and became Holy Roman Emperors. Emperor Constantine sanctioned the freedom and tolerance of Christians in his edict of 313 CE but he unwisely decided to move the capital of the empire to Constantinople undermining the Empire's power. The pontificate was re-established in Rome with Gregory XI in 1377. The power of the Popes increased as they were able to assign public offices, which led to serious corruption, nepotism, clashes and schisms. The centralization of the papacy and the church's power made a cultural impact on the city of seven hills. Rome became the center of artistic life. The face of the city changed, as palaces, villas, piazzas and churches were built. New streets were created and the Basilica of Saint Peter was restored. The sack of Rome occurred in 1527, and although the effects were disastrous, (all the artists abandoned the city), the wounds were soon healed and a new spirit of rebirth and development enveloped the city. More new districts and streets were created and the population began to move back to the city.
In the 17th Century, Rome went through a period of expansion and beautification, largely due to the work of two major artists, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. Clashes continued between the nobility and the populace. Rome's fortune waxed and waned under Napoleonic rule; the church's estates were confiscated and divided amongst French officials and shrewd Italians. The city was subject to French rule until the fall of Napoleon III and the annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy in 1870.
Rome became the capital of Italy in 1870 and the city received a huge influx of immigrants, which led to the rapid, and disordered creation of new dwellings. The situation did not improve with the advent of fascism. During World War II, the city was bombarded heavily by the United States, causing major damage, particularly in the areas of Verano and Porta Maggiore. The city was attacked during the period of German occupation until the end of the war. Following Mussolini’s execution, Italy chose to get rid of its monarchy and become a republic, and Rome was chosen as the capital.